* November 2 - 8
Hope: Motivation for Mission
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Matt. 8:5-13; 9:1-8; Mark 5:1-19; John 5:1-17; Acts 4:1-22.
MEMORY TEXT: "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold" (2 Corinthians 3:12, NIV).
KEY THOUGHTS: As we consider the gospel commission, we ask, "Is this to be a feeble, fearful, and fragile witness?" Certainly not. Our outreach is to be "very bold," because it centers on the God-given hope we share. We are a community of hope; we have become heirs of the hope of eternal life. How can (or dare) we keep such a hope to ourselves?
IN THIS STUDY WE WILL SEE HOW hope inspires us to share. The expectation of the soon coming of Jesus has always been a vibrant force for mission. As hope is brought back into focus, as it is placed at the forefront of our message to the world, then we can be sure that God will ensure that His promises are understood.
As a community of hope, we may be "jars of clay," but we have the priceless treasure of faith and hope given us, not to keep and hoard, like some modern-day miser, but to give away to whomever will receive. We are encouraged to speak words of encouragement to all we meet.
Despite the troubles and trials, tragedy and grief, we do not grieve like those who have no hope. In the words of the English proverb, it is told that "In the land of hope there is never any winter."
*Please study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, Nov. 9.
Sunday November 3
"Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold" (2 Cor. 3:12, NIV).
Without being arrogant and proud in ourselves, we are to be bold in spreading God's good news of hope. After all, how can we convince others of the importance of living the hope if it is not vivid and essential in our own lives?
Imagine: You are out selling brushes door-to-door. How many brushes do you think you will sell if this is your sales pitch?
"Oh, I'm here selling brushes. I don 't think they're that good, though. I mean, they're OK and all. I use these brushes myself sometimes, but not always. I suppose you could buy one if you really wanted. It's better than nothing."
Before long, you will be in the employment office looking for a new job.
Salespeople recognize the importance of enthusiasm and conviction. The best testimony is word of mouth, the recommendation of someone you know and trust.
So it is to be with Christians as we share the hope. We can be truly bold, because "we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord" (2 Cor. 4:5, NIV).
Look at 2 Corinthians 4:5, just quoted. What principle is found there that should give us boldness, assurance, and incentive to witness for our faith? What is our faith not centered on?
Read Acts 4:1-22. What is going on here? Peter and John were seized, jailed, and the next day hauled before the religious leaders, who demanded to know (vs. 7), "By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" Considering whom Peter and John had been with the past few years, there's no better question that could have been asked. Verse 13 says that the leaders marveled at the "boldness" of these men in their response.
Review Acts 4:1-22 and make a list of the things that John and Peter said or did that revealed their boldness and then ask the question, Why did they display this boldness? What happened that gave them the courage to witness so openly and fearlessly for their Lord? The answers are all found within the texts themselves.
|Read again Acts 4:13. What does it mean when it says that the leaders saw that these men "had been with Jesus"? What do people who have "been with Jesus" look and act like, and how can that be a powerful tool for sharing our hope?|
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matt. 9:35).
Jesus, when upon the earth in human flesh, spent a great deal of time healing diseases and ministering to the needs of fallen humanity. As Seventh-day Adventists, we believe that we, too, have been called, as followers of Christ, to do the same. That is why we have hospitals and medical missionary workers all over the world. It is part of who we are, what we do, and why we are here.
But we must remember, too, that healing was not for Jesus an end in and of itself. Sure, it was good that He brought relief to these suffering ones, but every one of those people whom He healed probably got sick again and, of course, all died. Even those whom He raised from the dead eventually died again. Jesus' healing was a means of reaching people with something greater than temporary physical relief, and that is the promise of salvation in Him, the promise of a world where there will never again be sickness, death, and suffering. Without that promise, what Jesus did in healing the sick might have been nice but, in the long run, what ultimate good did it do for them personally?
Look at the following accounts of Jesus' healing. In each one, focus not just on the healing itself but on the spiritual lessons that came with the healing: Matt. 8:5-13; 9:1-8; Mark 5:1-19; John 5:1-17.
At various points in His ministry, Jesus faced the problem of those whoso excited about His potential to supply their earthly needslost sight of the spiritual purpose of His mission, expressed so clearly in Luke 4:17, 18. In fact, after seeing His miracle of feeding the five thousand (John 6:1-15), the crowd wanted to, by force, declare Jesus king, that is, an earthly king. As a result, He had to depart. The people missed the real point of who He was and what He was trying to accomplish for them.
|As Adventist Christians, we know that we have been called to minister to people's needs, as did Jesus. At the same time, in what ways do we face the danger of confusing the means with the ends? Even secular people, just as much as Christians, can minister to the immediate needs and wants of humanity. But what can we offer to a sick, sinful, dying world that others, doing humanitarian work, cannot? The moment we forget that answer is the moment we are in danger of forgetting our real mission.|
"When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand" (Ezek. 3:18).
Study this text from Ezekiel. What is he saying? What kind of motivation does this present for us to witness to others?
You are not to shut yourselves up to yourselves, and be content because you have been blessed with a knowledge of the truth. Who brought the truth to you? Who showed the light of the
Word of God to you? God has not given you His light to be placed under a bushel. I have read of an expedition that was sent out in search of Sir John Franklin. Brave men left their homes, and wandered about in the North Seas, suffering privation, hunger, cold, and distress. And what was it all for?Merely for the honor of discovering the dead bodies of the explorers, or, if possible, to rescue some of the party from the terrible death that must surely come upon them, unless help should reach them in time. If they could but save one man from perishing, they would count their suffering well paid for. This was done at the sacrifice of all their comfort and happiness.
"Think of this, and then consider how little we are willing to sacrifice for the salvation of the precious souls around us. We are not compelled to go away from home, on a long and tedious journey, to save the life of a perishing mortal. At our very doors, all about us, on every side, there are souls to be saved, souls perishing,men and women dying without hope, without God,and yet we feel unconcerned, virtually saying by our actions, if not by our words, 'Am I my brother's keeper?' These men who lost their lives in trying to save others are eulogized by the world as heroes and martyrs. How should we who have the prospect of eternal life before us feel, if we do not make the little sacrifices that God requires of us, for the salvation of the souls of men?"Ellen G. White, Christian Service, pp. 93, 94.
|Compare these words of Ellen White with these of Jesus:
"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48). What are both saying, and why especially should wewho have been given such wonderful truths, especially the Adventist hopetake heed to listen?
"Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:1, 2).
In hope of eternal life." Talk about encapsulating in a few words the essence of our faith. "In hope of eternal life." What better hope for beings who are always, potentially, just a heartbeat away from death? No wonder we have been called to spread this truth to a dying world. Whatever else we might be able to give peoplelight on how to eat healthier, how to keep the Sabbath, how to stop smoking--nothing could possibly compare with showing people how to live "in hope of eternal life."
Paul said this hope of eternal life was based upon a promise of God "before the world began." Why would God need to make the promise of eternal life even before there were fallen human beings? See also Matt. 25:34; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rev. 13:8.
Whatever the exact meaning of this promise, given even before the world began, one thing is sure: The promise existed even before we did. That is how foundational it is. The promise was not something cooked up after the problem occurred; it was already there to meet the problem when it happened. Godhaving created free beingshad a plan already in place in case those free beings should stray. Talk about assurance, talk about security, talk about hope!
And that is why we should be so zealous in spreading this assurance, security, and hope to others.
Too often the comment is made that the Advent hope is not featured frequently in our presentations. If we truly are whom we claim to be, the blessed hope must be at the forefront as we tell people about our God and what He promises, for without it, what hope do we really have?
|Dwell more on the biblical teaching that "the hope of eternal life" comes to us from a promise made even before the world began and that it is "the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began" (Rom. 16:25). In The Desire of Ages, Ellen White said "it was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God's throne" (p. 22). What principles do you think these are? What do they tell us about God?|
A man told the story of his first encounter with Seventh-day Adventists. At a used book sale, he bought a paperback, The Great Controversy. It sat on his shelf for two years. Then one day, being bored, he picked it up, started reading, and for three days was enthralled, looking up texts, marking the book, and feverishly scribbling down many questions. He was so excited that he called the nearest Adventist church and talked to an elder, who invited him to a Wednesdaynight prayer meeting. Thrilled by what he read, he went, Bible and The Great Controversy firmly in hand. He met the elder at the front door, and together they entered to meeta church full of excited, worshipful Adventists awaiting their Lord's return? Not quite. There were just two elderly women, instead. The elder, seeing the man's disappointment, wanted to make him feel better, so he offered to take him out and buy him an ice cream cone.
Look at these following texts. What do they say about what the knowledge and experience of God does to those who truly possess it?
Rom. 6:4 _______________________________________________________________
2 Cor. 5:17 _____________________________________________________________
Titus 2:14 ______________________________________________________________
Heb. 12:10 _____________________________________________________________
It is a basic spiritual principle, one that we should never forget: You can't give what you don't have. And to have the Advent hope is more than just to know it intellectually. That is not enough. Even Satan knows about the Second Coming.
Instead, our message is something that needs to permeate all aspects of our lives, simply because it covers all aspects of our lives. Think about it. Is there anything about us, anything in our personal existence, that is not influenced by Jesus? We would not even be here if it were not for Him (Acts 17:28; Col. 1:16). Our usefulness in witnessing to others will be proportional to the degree that we are willing to surrender ourselves to the Lord, who alone can make us His instruments for spreading the Advent hope.
Take an honest look at yourself. Are you engaged, in one way or another, in sharing with others the hope that you claim to have? Only you can answer honestly. If you're not happy with the answer, what can you do to change?
FURTHER STUDY: Mission of HopeWhat We Tell the World. See Ellen G. White, Evangelism, p. 220 and Reflecting Christ, p. 220.
Read these words of counsel from Ellen White and see what they tell you about our mission of hope:
"This hope does not disappoint. That is the force of the expression, 'Hope maketh not ashamed,' in Rom. 5:5. Real hope does not deceive us; we are not made ashamed by being obliged to admit that we have not received that of which we spoke so confidently. Often have we been embarrassed when we have been asked where a certain thing is, which we have spoken about expecting to receive. We were disappointed, and would be glad to have the matter forgotten. We feel perhaps a little ashamed of our former enthusiasm, and do not like to have it mentioned. But nothing of this sort happens when we have 'the blessed hope' which comes with the experience of justification by faith."Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, June 24, 1902.
"Our Saviour went from house to house, healing the sick, comforting the mourners, soothing the afflicted, speaking peace to the disconsolate. He took the little children in His arms and blessed them and spoke words of hope and comfort to the weary mothers. With unfailing tenderness and gentleness, He met every form of human woe and affliction. Not for Himself, but for others did He labor."Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, p. 188.
SUMMARY: Hope motivates us to mission-not just the preaching of the soon coming of Jesus but the whole message of hope that is God's good news. Nevertheless, pitfalls are always in our path, as we always face the danger of forgetting what our real purpose is. Only by focusing on the final end of what we believe can we avoid this real danger.
J. H. Zachary
Kachimad and Ramzan Berve were earnest Muslims. They attended the calls to prayer and studied the Qu'ran. As they did, they noticed a name kept coming up, a name that became familiar to them, "Jesus, the Son of Mary."
Kachimad was impressed by the way Jesus treated people, and he realized that one day Jesus would judge humanity. He yearned to know more about this Prophet of God. He sensed the power and love of Jesus.
"Where can we learn more about this Jesus?" Kachimad asked his wife. His wife did not have an answer, but God did. About that time the local Adventist pastor visited the family and invited them to attend a Bible class. The couple joined the class.
The couple was thrilled to learn that the stones they loved in the Qu'ran were in the Bible too. Kachimad's Muslim training had taught him to treat holy things with reverence, and he was awed when he held a copy of the Bible for the first time. He recalled that the Qu'ran urged Allah's followers to study the Psalms, the prophets, and the Gospels, all of which were in the Bible. He began reading them with excitement.
When the couple learned about the Sabbath, they accepted it as the holy day of Allah, for it was also mentioned in the Qu'ran. When Kachimad and Ramzan were baptized, they asked their pastor to help them choose new names to reflect their new status as Christians. They chose Robert and Grace.
The couple accepted the challenge to become volunteers for The Quiet Hour's village evangelism program. During 1999 they visited house-to-house in their town, making friends for Jesus. They found 100 people who eventually accepted Jesus as their Savior.
In 2000 the couple was assigned to another village, where they began visiting their Muslim, Hindu, animist, and Christian neighbors. They prayed for another 100 new believers, but they know God can give them far more as long as they keep their hearts and minds fixed on Jesus.
J. H. Zachary is coordinator of international evangelism for The Quiet Hour.
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